Archive for category New Media – Online Marketing
What are you talking about on your blog? If it’s yourself, you’re probably not getting readers. You don’t want to be the guy at the party whose stories about himself only pause when he has time to stuff an hors d’ouevres in his mouth and continue with “and then I….”
When marketers say the 20 year or so old refrain Content is King, what they mean is the stuff you put on your Web site needs to be interesting to your readers, not just you. Your blog is not a mouthpiece for your sales department. It is a virtual conversation that provides something valuable to customers and partners and whomever else you are trying to get to read it. It’s educational, entertaining, and probably informal. The more natural a voice you adopt for your blog, the better. Have fun with it. Your blog is your creative arm. It’s where you connect with people who are like you, who would enjoy your product and the subculture that surrounds it the same way you do.
How to come up with ideas to write about:
Go to places where your customers hang out, in person or digitally, and see what they talk about. What else do they like? What can you tie back into the values of your product? Educate them on how to use your product. Provide profiles and links on people who are doing interesting things with the type of product or service you provide, though not necessarily customers all the time, since that all comes back to being completely about you. There’s nothing wrong with telling a story or two about yourself. Just don’t abuse it. Have other stuff there.
Pay Attention to Subcultures
I read blogs because of the interesting stories they tell about subjects I follow. And I’ll check out a book or product a blogger is promoting because I trust her, because she writes about other subjects that interest me.
I’ll buy a beauty product from a company if it is a natural product company that writes articles about growing organic herbs and aromatherapy, what collagen actually does for the skin, and how bee farming is humane and generates all sorts of useful ingredients, such as beeswax, which are used in products like theirs. A blog like this is not designed to push a product, though it informs me about aspects of the product and reminds me of the natural organic subculture that I have unofficially joined through my interests.
Build (and Join) Community
As a side note, I really really love that company if it also sponsors events with recyclers, crafters, and craft brewers in the local organic community and writes about the festivals it supports, since that fits in with my subculture and helps me connect to their idea of community and my own even better. But events are a whole other ball of beeswax. Though they help immensely with figuring out what to write about.
One way to tap into this community-building and be a local participant is to begin using Twitter to find others like yourself. Put your interests or your business summary in your profile – as well as a link to your Web site. Seek out and follow others by typing the words you used to describe yourself into the search bar in Twitter. People will find you and begin to follow you. Thank them for following you. Comment or reply to others in the industry who put tweets up you enjoy, or people who enjoy the same things you do. It builds on itself until you have a great group of folks who are engaged with your interests, and you can all share ideas – sometimes they are your direct customers telling you what they want, or showing you what they are reading (through the links they put up on their feeds), which is valuable information to have.
Use any or all of these methods to find ideas to write about and good content to link to on your blog. It’s not just about search engine optimization (SEO) or converting sales. You’re relationship building, and you do this through community – and through providing information people care about. Educate. Entertain. Inform. “Convert” comes later.
Branding is entering some new territory these days. Maybe not entirely uncharted, but sketchy and undermapped. We’re at the point in history where we are designing logos for concepts instead of organizations, and I’m intrigued to see where it goes.
On Fast Company’s design site, science and technology writer John Pavlus explores the international collaborative effort to design a logo for human rights. He writes that the concept isn’t well enough articulated to elicit a strong logo, and he may be right. But there are some pretty well articulated organizations getting involved, including judging by the UN itself, and the contest on humanrightslogo.net is using an increasingly popular crowdsourcing strategy to gather designs that might be able to pinpoint the issue. (See examples of logo entries below and in more detail on Mashable.)
It could happen. The Human Rights Campaign for LGBT equality gained traction with their yellow equal sign on a dark blue background, and I still see the stickers on cars everywhere. As Pavlus mentions, the recycling symbol is another good example of a concept logo, and is devoid of intellectual property or copyright issues. He riffs that recycling is a concrete concept as opposed to the rather diffuse idea of human rights, and there may be a point there. The HRC defined a group of people as the target. Another equality campaign, the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA Yes” green and white logo), is pushing for a particular piece of legislation, both concepts a little easier to wrap one’s head around than a nebulous idea of human rights.
Is there an agreed-upon definition of what constitutes human rights as far as the humanrightslogo.net folks are concerned? Maybe not, but there are probably a few basic tenets we can all support. And since the UN is part of the package, there are no doubt many high minds working on a definition.
Regardless, the whole idea behind the logo, as well as its rather impressive list of participants, may be enough to draw attention to an issue, which is sometimes an important end-goal in itself.
On a less lofty but still important issue, the new USDA food plate sans pyramid demonstrates mass recognition of the idea that easier to digest (pun intended) concepts with quick visual cues are just better for developed countries’ lifestyles at this juncture. These representations raise the point that our society is becoming more visual and more attention-deficient due to constant information saturation, and reminds us that easy visual cues like logos still have weight in branding.
Something an individual can virtually hold in his or her hand allows for easier brand digestion, and color and design often do have more impact than words. So much the better if the concept they represent contributes to humanity in some fashion. Design might just save the world after all.
Email marketing can be a great place to start to stay in touch with your customers or donors on a grassroots level, especially if you’re old school and are still learning some of the social media tools – or your customer base isn’t likely to be on any of the new sites. But many people don’t know where to start with email. The best place? Your current customer list.
Permission-based email marketing is the rule these days, and you need to have a prior relationship with people you email to avoid violating CAN-SPAM laws. Sounds scary, but it’s not really so bad. CAN-SPAM, or Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (whew!), is Congress’s method of protecting citizens from spam and governs email and other marketing contact. Most of the time we are glad for the rule, when we’re on the other end of the email. But if you start by sending to your current customers, you meet this rule head on with no worries. And you can end up growing your list through WOM (word of mouth), the best way to do it anyway. So start with who you know, and you’ll be up and running in no time.
The second consideration is content. You have to have something worth reading, or you may end up in the junk mailbox despite your best efforts. No need to fear this part. Basically, marketing now is about providing education and resources and starting a conversation with your customers. You do this anyway every time you do business, so go with what you know here. Chat up your customers, and tell them a little about what you know. Be a tease, and lead them back home to mama (or papa) where the motherload of knowledge resides. That’s you if you weren’t following the parental metaphor….
I know there are many folks out there who still think marketing has an aura of evil about it. I used to be one of those folks, so I get it. But the days of making a deal with the devil to market your business are over. The Internet has made it possible to connect with people and still just be little ole you, without costumes, disguises, sleazy sales tactics, or – of course – selling your soul.
The genius of new media marketing is that you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Customers can sniff out the inauthentic in any business, so you pretty much have to be yourself – which is good, because who else would you be?
If you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you can talk to, and more importantly, listen to, your customers online and provide them with education and resources to show you care and earn their trust. You do this through email and e-newsletters, blogs… Read the rest of this entry »