Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Having an Event? Here's an Easy Social Media Trick.

I'm a new Clary Shirky groupee, thanks to TED so it isn't a surprise that I bought his book, Here Comes Everybody, (on Half.com since I'm still job searching and my cash flow is challenged). I'm just about 30 pages in and he's writing about Coney Island's Mermaid Parade and the photographs, taken by a variety of folks, that were uploaded onto Flickr (and yes, you should check it out, think of it as a photographic search engine and please note that I'm not the only Shirky groupee.)

Clay is making the point that an institutional dilemma exists since "the minimum costs of being an organization...are relatively high, certain activities may have some value but not enough to make them worth pursuing in any organized way." Then along came new social tools like Flickr, which are "altering this equation by lowering the costs of coordinating group action."

He points out that Flickr didn't have the funds to identify the event or coordinate photographers. (Also it really isn't their focus or function.) But photographers of the Mermaid Parade, when they uploaded their photos to Flickr, tagged them with the event's name, making it easy to find these pictures.

So if I'm managing an event, I would be wise to include a Flickr tag in my publicity materials so that anything posted to Flickr or any other social media site has a good chance of being readily accessible after the event by interested audiences. (Puts an interesting spin on naming conventions as well, doesn't it?) Most importantly, think what my event committee and I can do with that reconnaissance for creating future publicity, improving the event and enlisting volunteers!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Email and Snail Mail

I’ll admit it. I’ve willingly given out my email address in order to subscribe to an electronic newsletter and found myself the victim of the rapid gun-fire spray of one-sided product pitching emails, similar to all that direct mail that I religiously pull from my mail box.

I know that used effectively email marketing can be cost-efficient especially when compared to its senior counterpart, direct mail. (Look Mom, no paper, no printing, no stamps!). But just like direct mail, it is also a great way to lose our shirts when it doesn’t get delivered or fails to elicit a response.

Another factor I keep in mind is in the implementation. Email marketing while an effective business channel, is still maturing. Technology, audience expectations and legislation governing commercial email communication (CAN-SPAM) are constantly changing the rules of engagement. Direct mail is more mature with fewer surprises.

But irregardless of whether it’s paper or electronic, the reasons for failure are the same - poor audience definition, bad mailing lists, dull content or an unclear call to action and also don’t forget, the lack of a customer relationship. So keep these areas in mind, and remember that the secret to success is test, test, test.

Cartoon from weblogcartoons.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yesterday's Marketing versus Today's

Slide 1
Yesterday’s Marketing
Today’s Truth
Remarkable advertising sells
Remarkable products are brought
You can target consumers
Consumers can target you
Seduce the market
Honesty invites and wins customers
Marketing is about control
You never have control
Your time, your place, your message
Consumer’s time, place & content
Push your message
Engage to get their pull through

Monday, June 1, 2009

Your Online Reflection - Or - Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

Over the weekend, a friend asked me what actions I'd use in checking my company's online presence and reputation. And although I'm sure you'll think of more , I came up with this short list.

I'd secure my URL to protect my name and I'd make sure my company was in the top ten listed in Google search. To see if yours is indexed on Google (or Yahoo or MSN) you can type in the search box - site: your domain name.com. For instance, with my site, I typed in site: marionguthrie.com. The reason why is that your company's site should be built and indexed to accommodate high search rankings otherwise you won't appear as credible to your prospects and peers. This will give you a starting point, a "you are here" perspective. Then to raise your search ranking, before you utilize the talents of a consultant, check out Wikipedia, skim through Peter Kent's Search Engine Optimization for Dummies and give me a shout.

Next I'd set up a Google Alert for my company. Simple enough to do and it will tell you what is being said about you (as well as companies or people with similar names), where your reputation stands and insights into flaws in your service or delivery that should be corrected. If your customers are complaining, this alert will help you find out.

Just like having a corporate brochure or a business card, I'd create a company presence on LinkedIn so that interested prospects could look up your company and find a description and a mission statement. Also, depending on your offering, you might consider establishing a group for clients so that when they use your service, they are encouraged to join that group and post your company's logo on their personal site. Within that group you (and they) will be able to post questions and responses (for example, on your service and how they are using it successfully) which will encourage customer dialog and build credibility with prospects. Build your own profile on LinkedIn and join a group so you can see how this works.

If you're thinking about putting your company on Facebook, I'd be cautious as it has a non-professional feel. Let's face it rock stars and families use Facebook to stay in touch and build fans. Coke uses it because 2 loyal fans decided to start a group which was sanctioned, much later, by the company. If I was a cereal, a baby product, an automobile or a movie, I'd probably be on Facebook but especially as a service business I'd be careful because I want you to believe that I'm intelligent and serious about helping you make money. Check out what some of your competitors are doing.... are they on Facebook?

Most importantly, don't think first about the technology -- think first about your target customers. Do you know who your new business prospect is and where they're looking, reading, and interacting? Once you have this nailed down, the rest (objectives, strategy and tactics) will come naturally and you won't be, for example, on Twitter just for the sake of being on Twitter. If you use it, it will be a technology tactic that is part of an overall business and identity development strategy.