Archive for the ‘Archive 2009’ category

Help Wanted: Grammer Checkar

August 11th, 2009

A friend of mine offered to edit my blog. He tells me he reads my blog to get caught up on the latest trends in marketing. He also tells me my grammar is horrendous and I need an editor. He has begun to send me edited versions of my blog posts. The fact that he is a professional writer does lend credence to his claim regarding my grammar. In my defense, I review my blog posts at least twice before sending and my grammar mistakes still get through.

In my day job, I always have editorial reviews for that reason. If I can get a software developer, even better. They are known for their grammar skills. I guess bug fixing at 3AM will sharpen your syntax and grammar skills….

My friend also needs help on one of his projects. We swap services; though full disclosure, there is no monetary value placed on either of these services. But, I think that there is a lot more of the “swapping of services” with the rise of social media.

When I was in grad school over a decade ago, my paper was on first mover advantages over the web. I wrote a paper on the challenges that near zero distribution costs would have on entry barriers for software companies.

Now, I am seeing the impact that near zero distribution costs are having on services. The barter economy preceeds the money economy by thousands of years. So, believe me when I am telling you that; I am not running into the room telling you that I realized that I just figured out why apples fall from trees. (Mark, good luck fixing this sentence)

I think the rise of social media is lowering the costs for matching the buyers and sellers of services. Part of the challenge has been in finding good information to identity and determine the quality of the service providers. Hence the need for an intermediary who played the role of market maker who could validate the quality for the buyer. Recruiters were a good example of this trend. Your neighbor who recommended a tree service was another.

Now, we are seeing the rise of online service provider rating services who allow users to directly access the reviews by past customers. We are seeing notices for assistance directly on social media sites; i.e. I saw a linkedin question to find a technical support specialist for a specific engagement. Social media lowers the communications costs associated with matching buyers and sellers. This is not a new trend, but we are seeing the extent that it is becoming more mainstream.

Hence, my professional writing buddy, who trades editing for a professional review of his marketing website. The ability to hit your rolodex (now virtual rolodex) for a subject matter expert is becoming more extensive and extendible. Additionally, the ability to find reviews of those providers at the same time is making services transactions easier to conduct. With paypal, neither party needs to even leave their homes… or change out of their pajamas. Very scary thought….

Wish List for Social Marketing Metrics

August 4th, 2009

I get requests to review social media related platforms all the time; functionality, metrics, and integration. Some of these platforms are really good and some of them will die a quiet death. I make it a point to not discuss any specific platforms just because I want to stay strategic in this blog. But, I think there is value in outlining what I am looking for in the way of platform measurement capabilities that will support my social marketing strategy. Here is my wish list of activities that I want to measure and for which I am trying to collect tools; some of which is available and some is still not ready for primetime…

  1. Automatic Chatter Analysis – who, what, where, when, why, and how with comparisons, triggers, analysis, and a dashboard.
  2. Synchronization of My Social Networking Contacts – cross platform and multiple networks with the ability to start with one and find someone on another; i.e. uploading a twitter contact and have the ability to synch with LinkedIn or Facebook or email.
  3. Social CRM – then do that for all of my company’s contacts, dropped into a CRM system which I can then manage multiple contacts, campaigns, and relationships
  4. Online Community Lead Scoring – apply lead scoring to my own hosted community. I want to be able to identify when activities in the community indicated greater interest and send that into my CRM or multi-channel marketing system for follow up.
  5. Multi-Channel Reach Measurement – include social networking channels, twitter, blogs, back links, SEO, & SEM. Not just email and web analytics.
  6. Social Influencer Scoring – compare the various potential lead influencers to compare; blogs, communities, social networks, twitter, forums, sites, etc.
  7. Lead Source Analysis – Need a better way of being able to identify and track indirect sources for leads. I can use the latest web analytic tools to identify pages, but I need a way to elevate that to identify the sources of leads to compare and contract; i.e.  2nd generation re-tweet triggers a wave of people to our website. I want to be able to match the tweet to the twitter user to the lead. This would require some serious integration between social media and web analytics with a healthy dose of marketing legwork.
  8. Strength of Social Marketing Channels – Once you can track, then you can evaluate.
  9. Cost of Lead Acquisition by Social Marketing Channel – This is the Holy Grail; to measure the cost of lead generation by channel. Cross match it to revenue from leads and lead source and you have ROI.
  10. Social Marketing Brand Strength – Measurement of reach, calls to action, and actual action. There are some metrics out there with proprietary formulas, but this is still nascent.

If automatic ROI calculations are still some point off into the future, then what can we measure today and how can we justify our expenditures on Social Marketing? My answer is that it depends on the “how’s”; how big, how complex, how sophisticated, how much is your budget, and how much time? You can track a great deal with the tools currently available which is more sophisticated than much of the traditional brand-oriented mass communications channels that exist today. So, the good news is that we are moving in the right direction, but it is still more art than science. Well, at least until the platform vendors provide the above capabilities.

Why this Blog isn't Like Others

July 30th, 2009

Since the focus on my blog is marketing strategy, most of my followers will be surprised to find me writing on tactical blogging. However, I have gotten a good number of requestsregarding how am I getting such traction with my blog, even more so than most websites. So, this is a deconstruction of my approach for those who aren’t familiar with how to build a blogging strategy.

First, let me outline why this blog is different than most of your traditional blogs:

  1. More like a corp blog than a traditional individual blog- I am running this as I would if I were the CMO of a company and I needed dynamic content for my website and for direct messaging to the market.
  2. I am playing a specific role as a content manufacturer versus a content distributor – I have written about how I see the the development of tiered content distribution on the web (Search Engines versus Social Media for Marketing Awareness)
  3. Focused on establishing my thought leadership in the social marketing space – hence the original, higher quality content.
  4. My audience is the “C” level executive decision-makers that doesn’t have time to read blogs -Kind of tough to reach people via a blog who don’t read blogs, but my strategy is to leverage indirect channels of establishing relationships prior to engaging. I am getting read, but I am reaching them through other channels and then bringing them to my blog one at a time.
  5. My blog is obviously integrated with my offline and other online marketing activities -The decision makers don’t care whether the information is offline or online, they just want quality from validated sources. My marketing strategy does both prior to engagement.
  6. My blog isn’t as targeted – I would like to be more targeted, but I am having to balance my desire my long term goal to find a permanent role with my short term social marketing consulting. Hence, it is a bit schizophrenic in switching between broader CMO topics (Web 2.0 product management, product marketing, and lead generation) and more targeted social marketing.
  7. You will notice that I don’t have links – It is not that I do not want to be helpful to assist you in finding additional strategic marketing resources, but they are time consuming to build and, in truth, they distract from the narrative that I am building between posts.
  8. Very little third party content for the same reason – I am showcasing my expertise, building a narrative around social marketing, and focused on building a library of original content. I will occasionally comment on really cool information, but I try to be a destination for original content.
  9. I have turned off the commenting (too much SPAM) – I receive feedback through my social networks, twitter, email, and back links. Please reach me through these vehicles (contact info in the sidebar) as I appreciate people the feedback.
  10. I have a micro targeting strategy versus a macro blogging recognition one – In part, I am more focused on creating a thought leadership center for people to leverage for understanding social marketing, validating my expertise, and providing a call to action around my resume. Hence why I am on a hosted wordpress with poor Seach Engine Optimization. I am not looking to establish myself as a blogger, but rather I am validating my knowledge as a Marketing Executive with some very cool, cutting edge expertise.

My Recommendations for Starting a Corporate Blog

1. Start with the Strategy first. Are you blogging for brand recognition, validation, sales support?

2. Understand the mechanics of blogging – what rules will you follow, which ones will you not. I break some rules because it supports my strategy to do so.

3. Build an editorial calendar – map out the narrative that you want to deliver and manage to that

4. Pace yourself – fewer posts of higher quality is better. On the other hand, make sure that you are at least once or twice a week, preferrably more.

5. Don’t “Build it and They Will Come” – doesn’t work. You need to promote it, get it added to online catalogs, cross promote with other marketing communications channels, and get the word out. It takes a while to build visability and even longer to build a regular following.

Hope this helps.

Using Baseball Fans to Explain Web 2.0

July 28th, 2009

As a web evangelist, I cheer the widespread adoption of the latest web techniques and technologies. As a business person, I am a little confused by the widespread use of 2.0 label on everything; Sales 2.0, Recruiting 2.0, Pizza 2.0, Beer 2.0, etc. Everything seems to become 2.0.

As a product manager, I cringe when I see a 2.0 label slapped onto something that is vague and unclear. Even worse, many are now moving towards 3.0 to discuss semantic web. For many people, they are still getting their arms around the what web 2.0 is let alone things like mashups, mobile marketing, online communities, social networking, semantic web, etc. For those of you confused, here is my baseball fan analogy to help you understand…

First there was the baseball uniform, then numbers were added, then names. Eventually, the jerseys were mass produced which the fans could take home from the stadiums. This was the equivelent of HTML.

Then the fan favorite jerseys were then sold at local retailers. This was the equivelent of email marketing. This of course led to the development of fake jerseys sold everywhere. This was SPAM.

When a buddy organizes a trip to the park and buys a 10 pack of cheap outfield tickets for his friends to tag along and drink. This is a social network. As an aside, when he bought them online, this was ecommerce.

Now, Major League Baseball does not allow you to build and order your custom named jersey(imagine a couple with Chug-a-lug & Beer Goggles on the back), but if they did, the jersey would be XML and the experience would be Web 2.0.

Imagine if MLB would imbed RFID tags in the jersey tied to an acount that would allow you to just walk into the stadium without tickets. This is RFID. If you don’t know RFID, there is the technology they have been using to track packages, groceries, and warehouse pallets. If the ticket was on a phone that was bar coded, this is mobile commerce. (Yes, they are doing it now)

Take this further and imagine that MLB took your online account of when you came to the stadium and combined it with a weather chart to figure out if you were a true “fair-weather” fan. This is a mashup.

If MLB, then took this information and sent you a 50% off promotion on your phone inviting you to attend on the next rainy day, that is mobile marketing.

If they took that information and the next time that you came to the game, they ejected you from line because the system automatically figured out that the team had lost the last 4 games that you came to the park, that is semantic web.

You could call all of the above Baseball 2.0…

In all seriousness though, web 2.0 and the like terminology is confusing for a lot of people. I know first hand how hard it is for people, who spend their every waking working minute immersed in developing a new technology/product and/or company, to remember that everyone else doesn’t have the vocabulary or the frame of reference to “get it”. For many in the technology business, it is hard to imagine that AOL still has 6 million dial-up customers. For those of us who run marketing & product management organizations, our jobs are first to build a fantastic customer experience and then make sure we make it easily understood. Of course, it should go without saying to get it widely adopted, but that is still more art than science.

Virtual Relationships Still Need to Get Physical

July 24th, 2009

As much as I advocate the value of social media and online communications, these still don’t replace the value of face-to-face meetings. Body language aside, most of us grew up in a world without the heavy influence of our computers. TV and radio were the primary electronics of our youth…. well, Atari was prevalent in mine, but despite the disproportionate amount of time that I spent chomping on little strings of dots, most of my childhood was spent offline.

As an adult, I now spend a disproportionate of my time on my computer. My relationships are going virtual as well. It is much more efficient to fire off three emails while working on a presentation than to stop pick up the phone or trek over the nearest Starbucks. I do business online and collaborate with people that I have neither met over the phone or in-person. I have just shy of 3500 Linkedin connections and 550 Facebook friends along with 334 Twitter Followers. I am so “online” that I don’t print out white papers to read anymore. (Yes, I still read them.)

In truth, my technographic profile fits more of the much younger generations that are growing up online. Kids are a little ahead of the adults in that they don’t recognize the difference between interactions online versus offline. I am seeing more of the adults becoming the same way.

We will organize an introduction via email to meet at a local Starbucks. After we meet, we will follow up by email with other virtual introductions, some phone calls, and even a PowerPoint or two. Some may even tweet about it… and then repeat the cycle.

As a social marketing evangelist, I advocate building online relationships as a effective and efficient way to reach broader audiences. I actually believe that this will eclipse many of the traditional methods of relationship building in business over the next couple of years.

As a marketer, I realize that you need to reach people in the ways that they want to be found; email, phone, meetings, introductions, events, social media, direct mail, advertising, PR, search, etc. Many people aren’t comfortable about building relationships without meeting face-to-face. Look at past Ecommerce trends; people weren’t comfortable giving their credit card to unknown merchants. Until there were protections in place that prevented the loss from unethical merchants, Ecommerce was the wild west. We can’t discount the need to build a way to establish trust online for many people.

As a product of my generation and the generations that sandwich mine, I miss the live interactions. With all due respect to the empowered pajama workers, I need the human interaction. Even if I spend all day on the computer, I need a human connection.

I actually like trade shows and conferences. For exactly the same reason I like bookstores, I like to browse the shelves and pick up books. Cover art, book heft, back cover descriptions, immediate gratification, and in-store promotions are still a part of my book buying DNA. Yes, I have bought books online, even online books, but I still will go to a bookstore. There is something to be said for finding a new vendor or meeting new prospects at a conference or show that you would never have met. Even better, a whole lot of them at once.

As much as I do business online, I feel more connected after we meet face-to-face. Breaking bread with someone is still a way to validate the measure of a person.

I am not a look-back type of person as I really like the direction that technology is going, I enjoy social media, and I think we are seeing a fundamental shift towards online relationships. Just saying that virtual relationships still could use a cup of coffee now and then.