Archive for February, 2007

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Clicking to the Oldies

February 26, 2007

At my previous employer I once suggested to a senior executive that the company should form a team (which I wanted to head) to target the 50+ age group specifically to move technology from “tool” to “essential” in their lives. His response was “why”? He meant “no”.

 If you are not following the 50+ Marketing trend (The 50Plus Market is a good place to start; the 50+ Digitalagency looks interesting also) then it is time to open your eyes to one of the biggest waves coming (and get in ahead of the crowd). The boomers and post-boomers graying around us are spending more and more time online; it is not just the MySpace crowd that is going to define the future. There are vast sums of money to be spent by this generation and far too much online activity seems to forget they even exist.

I have been thinking about this opportunity for some time and am slowly deriving my own set of rules and priorities. Here are two that seem solid in my mind so far:

  • The 50+ market watches online youth-focused trends (e.g., MySpace) with more interest than we believe.
  • The 50+ market is eager to have something to call their own.

I will drill into these a bit more in my next post.

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Blogs and marketing

February 11, 2007

Some pointers to a good discussion:

Jon Udell at Microsoft comments on his discussion with Marty Collins, also of Microsoft.

I will circle back in the future for some of my thoughts on this. For now, click the links above.

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There and there

February 10, 2007

The new photo on the header is one I took in Japan a couple of years ago. It is just a scene in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. I snapped it as I was waiting to cross the street. Things are so orderly and clean in Tokyo and the flow of pedestrian traffic is pretty predictable. That guy just seemed of another world.

The other “there” is the beginning of a new project online. I have always wanted to open a bar and have a vast love (and some knowledge) of the world of bar beverages. Since I am not going to be able to open a bar anytime soon I have decided to set-up my own little corner of the blogosphere (still hate that word) to dish out wisdom, wit, and share stories and lies. Please visit The Saucy Elf and let me know what you think. I hope to have it rolling full-steam ahead in the next month or so. I suspect this site might suffer a bit in the process.

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More blogging

February 8, 2007

If you have not seen the Forrester report on ROI of Blogging I recommend you take a look. Very thought provoking.

 Charlene Li has an interesting blog here. Even better is the work she and Josh Bernoff are doing on social networking.

I think we are entering Blogging 2.0 — now it actually has to show some value. It feels like the power of the analytics mindset has come to social networking.

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Corporate Blogs

February 5, 2007

 

I recently had a discussion with a colleague about the value of blogs. His point, and it is a very valid one, is that one more voice in the chorus will not make that much of a difference. My reply was that one voice might make all the difference in the world. 

According to Technorati there are now more than 50 Million blogs online. For those of us who make our living online, a blog has become almost as common as an email address. For many corporations the blog has become an easy way to demonstrate their “openness” and to engage in a dialog with their customers. Marketers are now advocating blogs as a very viable and very inexpensive “direct” marketing channel. 

The problem, however, is that no one can really measure the effectiveness of these blogs. Although there are a variety of tools available to track “buzz” and to determine the strength of referral networks and the search ranking of a blog, nothing really answers the fundamental marketing question “will my customers buy more?” because of this blog. 

John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, keeps a very interesting blog The frequency of his posts is relatively low, but they exceptionally revealing of the priorities of Mr. Mackey and the company he runs. In June of 2006 his blog became the forum for an open discussion with Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” a popular and highly regarded book that was very critical of certain aspects of the Whole Foods business. I encourage you to read the discussion in full, but the key point here is the potential, and potentially measurable, impact of Mr. Mackey’s blog on Whole Foods customers. If Mr. Pollan’s book made you think twice about visiting the local branch, Mr. Mackey’s blog would likely have made you think again.  

To really understand this in a broader context of marketing, imagine it is 1966 and the President of GM responds to Ralph Nader’s concerns about the Chevrolet Corvair through his blog instead of through legal channels. Entire markets were reshaped by “Unsafe at Any Speed”, and today that scenario would play out very differently. 

Blogging is not only important because of what a company can say about itself, it is also important because of what the marketplace can say about a company. Marketers have no real control over user generated content; they can choose to ignore it or find a way to respond and use it. 

Much like the first generation of web sites, where simply measuring visitors and page views was enough to justify continued investment, our understanding of the power of blogs is very rudimentary. Here are some simple practices that should be standard for any corporate blog:·        Ensure that your existing web analytics include the blog pages as part of the overall site; if they live on a separate blogging site, regularly gather any data you can from there.

  • Review the trackbacks to a blog on a regular basis to determine who is pointing to your blog.
  • Use free sites such as Technorati to track discussions and sites like Opinmind to gauge sentiment.
  • Track discussions about the company and be prepared to engage the market in a dialog where appropriate.
  • Work with direct and interactive marketing experts to use custom and proprietary tools to deeply track and measure market “buzz”. Ensure your site analytics and optimization team include blogs in your KPIs.
  • Track audience perceptions regularly and be sure to include blogs as a specific response in questions such as “where do you get information about new products, etc.” (as opposed to just using “online” as the response).

 

Last year, a large software vendor tracked a wave of negative sentiment about a new product across the “blogosphere”. Early warning systems and careful analysis allowed them to track back to the single blogger from which the negative comments originated. Upon careful examination it became clear the comments were grounded in erroneous information about the product. Once the vendor provided the correct information to the blogger he updated his post and quickly generated a new wave of discussion that cancelled the existing negative wave. 

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No Super Bowl ad comments

February 4, 2007

Since the Super Bowl commercials will be analyzed endlessly online, I shall forgo any comments at all.

But, I was mildly disappointed at the endless series of promos for the various CBS shows (CSI, CSI:Las Vegas, CSI: Miami, CSI: Spokane, Criminal Minds, etc.). We are not big TV watchers in our house and except for the Food Network on some Sunday afternoons we never have the TV just playing in the background. Our 4 year old daughter is restricted to one show in the evening, usually Dora or Little Einsteins, or part of a movie like Mary Poppins (she just love Mary Poppins, go figure). However, for something like the Super Bowl we all enjoying watching and she is welcome to be in the room. It is a special treat for her to see something unusual. She was totally fascinated with the opening spectacle with the beautiful colors and balloons and music. But, then she was confused and clearly a bit frightened by those CBS promo spots.

I think CBS should be a more sensitive to the type of audience that the Super Bowl attracts. It is not just guys enjoying the game; it is families enjoying something on a Sunday afternoon that happens once a year. It is children like my daughter that want to hang out with their parents for a while. Must they see explosions and guns and fast cut shots of scary looking criminals? My vote is no.