Monday, December 31, 2007

Blogs, the new Radio?

In looking at the development and evolution of the blogosphere it occurs to me that the dynamics of the marketplace are very similar to radio, only better.

Like radio, you never know how many people will be tuning in at any given time. Unlike radio, your message is there waiting for them whenever they decide to show up. The marketplace is demand driven. Blogs are sought out by people seeking specific information and points of view. There is no content "gate keeper". No doubt one political party or the other will soon be pointing out how "unfair" this is and propose some kind of "Balanced Blogging Bill"

Blogs are extremely versatile. I have several areas of interest and enjoy writing, so I have several blogs. Taking a page from the radio advertising play book, I decided to experiment with "call in contests" on one. This morning I posted a question of the day, along with a link to where one could find the answer. The first person to email the correct answer before the deadline wins a free pizza. Of course, the winner would have to be someone close enough to come pick up the prize, which is why it's posted on a locally targeted blog. I'll let you know how it goes.

The marketing opportunities are vast. Sites like and can help you make money and/or advertise on other blogs. An ad often consists of being paid to put a link within a blog post or do a review of someone else's blog. Unlike radio, a blog post doesn't go away as soon as it's aired. Who knows how much "airplay" you'll get for your $5.

The blogosphere isn't new, but I believe it's on the verge of becoming HUGE (or HUGER). The potential is tremendous. Once again, Google is ahead of the curve, leading the market in blogging tools and gadgets, not to mention free web space. From here I see the blogosphere branching out into video stations as the technology catches up with demand. Other media could have evolved along side it and taken advantage of the trend, but they seem to be content in trying to fend it off, a lost cause.

Here's something I'd like to see: A radio station that has a site where you can download free (or for 20 cents or so), unrestricted mp3's of up and coming bands. The station uses the download data to determine which songs to play and how often. The bands get great exposure, the consumer gets great new music. The radio station operates not as a radio station, but as a brand name for a particular genre of music. They could sell ads on the website, the radio, even a monthly newsletter or magazine.

As for TV, how about YouTV? An expansion of the "public access" channels. You have a series of channels that feature viewer submitted content. Different channels for different content. 3 minute clips submitted by viewers. The cable or satellite provider also makes individual clips available in the ON DEMAND menu. Again, they use the demand data to determine which videos to replay. Of course they also make the videos available on the web.

The marketing industry shifts back and forth, sometimes favoring distribution channels, sometimes content. At the moment and for the foreseeable future, it looks like Content is King. Hitching your wagon to a particular distribution channel is probably not a good idea.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jesus Camp - Total Immersion Marketing

The Movie Jesus Camp has caused some controversy. It displays the indoctrination of young children into Evangelical Christianity. Without comment on anyone's religion or the merits of this form of "education" I would like to take a look a the marketing aspects of the approach.

The most important part of mass manipulation is in establishing "community". Community is a sense of belonging to a group and can be established through shared experiences and memories, which become the community's culture.

Children are far more capable of suspending their disbelief and accepting what's been told to them. In any movement, the majority of participants are not going to become zealots, but a small number will, and the majority will likely at least remain sympathetic to the cause.

Total indoctrination at a young age, continuing through adulthood serves a variety of purposes. It creates a community. A mass of people who can be manipulated, directed or influenced by community leaders preserving and creating the culture.
It developes leaders. A small percentage of youngsters and newbies will get the "fire in their belly" and retain their enthusiasm into adulthood, either because they see the potential of the organization, or because they really are "true believers".

This is your primary sales force. These individuals will go out and sell and grow the organization and advance its agenda. Most of the remaining individuals will go along with or at least not interfere with, the community's agenda (as set by its leadership). They are also consumers, benefactors, fund raisers and in some cases, field workers. Evangelicals, for example, were on to "crowdsourcing" way before the term was coined for modern marketing execs.

There is a fine line however. If your organization crosses into behavior that it's greater society will not tolerate, the organization can collapse. You want to connect your membership in a manner that is unique, while not being offensive or threatening to non-members. If you really must expand your influence beyond your potential membership in an organization, start a second organization, or a third.

Regardless of your feelings toward religion, it's obvious that churches and religions are a great source of case-study when it comes to marketing, especially long term marketing.

Here's the movie: It's a long one

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Value of Raising Your Profile

Raising your profile in the marketplace, promoting awareness, branding, whatever you'd like to call it, can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your other marketing efforts. How should one go about it? How much of one's budget should one dedicate to it?

Marketing designed to raise your profile or increase awareness of your business includes things like calendars, event marketing, newsletter sponsorship, networking and other activities that primarily make your company name and image visible rather than promoting a specific product or offer. It doesn't have an instantaneous, at least not immediately trackable impact, so many businesses don't recognize it's value. If you ask a customer why they came in today or how they heard about you, they're not likely to say, "well, I saw your logo at the Fun Run and just decided to drop by." But these types of ads do have an impact on the effectiveness of your other ads.

A customer may report that they responded to an offer you placed in the paper. What they may not report, or even be aware of, is that they responded to your newspaper ad because they were familiar with the name or logo. They may not know where they've seen it before, but they have. Consumers are more likely to respond to companies that they've heard of before, than one they're seeing for the first time.

Awareness ads are usually targeted at general audiences. They don't require a tailor-made mailing list or a lot of demographic research. They can be as simple as a logo on a concert or event poster, or a business card ad in the homeowners association newsletter. Networking is another form of profile raising. The idea is to make it more likely that when your company name comes up in conversation, or someone sees one of your other ads they'll say or think "oh yeah, I've heard of those guys".

Think of profile raising or awarenss ads like adding gas treatment to your tank. You'll get more milage out of the rest of your marketing. A good rule of thumb might be around 20% of your ad budget, although it can be less if you use your imagination. A banner can be used again and again, as can car magnets and decals, shirts and hats. Link exchanges with other websites can often be had for free. Co-op marketing can give you wide exposure at a very low cost.

This part of your marketing tool kit can inspire people to seek more information and take a closer look at your other material. Of course you have to be ready to provide the more detailed info when they come looking for it. Have brochures and flyers on hand, ready to email, mail, or hand out upon request. Make sure your employees are up to date on your latest promotions and ready to answer questions.

Good marketing campaigns are like good songs. A nice mix of vague and specific, familiar and new, predictable and unexpected. Strike a chord with the marketplace. Draw them in with a catchy refrain and then give them the lyrics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Earthrace - Mega Event Marketing by SGC Energia

New Zealander, Pete Bethune plans to break the world record for a speedboat circumnavigating the world, and he intends to do it using biofuel.

The event will begin in March of 2008. Bethune and his team landed a major sponsor in SGC Energia of Portugal, who will be supplying all of the biofuel needed for the trip.

What a shrewd move by SGC Energia, based in a country famous for its record breaking world explorers, the company is a leading manufacturer of biofuels. The publicity garnered just in sponsoring the attempt will be enormous. Should Bethune and his team succeed, the payoff will be astronomical.

Even a close finish will demonstrate that biofuel is ready for prime-time. New technologies making algae farming for biofuels more economical, being worked on by SGC and a host of other companies, could help make biodiesel a major contender within the next decade.

For more information visit In any case, the boat looks really cool.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is Print Marketing Dead?

You've probably heard the rumor, mainly from guys trying to sell you internet, radio or TV ads, that print is on the way out. So is it true? Not exactly. This proclamation was brought to you by the same folks who predicted the "paperless office" a decade or so ago. Print marketing is different, but one look at your mailbox or office desk should be enough to tell you that print is alive and well.

The death of print advertising predictions stem mainly from the drop in circulation in major newspapers. Major newspapers tend to try to be all things to all people. That's what's dead. The "average American" is a myth and always has been. Everyone has different interests and the surge in information and communication technologies has enabled individuals to be more discriminate about the information they consume. It's much easier to find info related to a specific field, no matter how obscure.

In marketing, you don't need to choose between one medium and another. The important thing is to determine who your customers and prospects are. Give them information they can use and connect yourself to it. One should still do some "shotgun" marketing (targeted at general audiences), but a good deal of your efforts should be focused on individuals who already have some interest in what you have to offer. The medium isn't as important as the content.

People who watch TV, listen to radio and surf the web, still read hard copy. In fact the internet has actually created a boom in book sales, by making them more available at competitive prices. The internet, radio, TV and print can all compliment each other. When your company and logo become familiar, all of your ads work better. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Use any or all methods that will reach who your looking for, but make it interesting. Simply getting in someone's face and screaming "Buy My Stuff" isn't going to cut it anymore.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Being "Remarkable" or Purple Cow Marketing by Seth Godin

This video by Seth Godin points out how marketing has changed with the marketplace. How offering information to the interested is much more cost effective than pushing information through interruption.
It's 18 minutes well spent.

Fun with Top Search Terms...and Ryan White

As you probably know by now, many bloggers choose their topic of discussion by checking to see what search terms are currently hot. Here's an experiment you can try with some of your friends and/or coworkers, to see if the system works in reverse.

First: I'm not sure if a single person doing 10 identical searches counts as 1 or 10, so we'll have to do some trials.

Okay, now pick a ridiculous topic, one that's not likely to come up normally. Something like "polka dotted leprechauns". Now coordinate with friends and coworkers to type the term into the Google search box at a specified time, and keep doing searches for the same term for, say 15 minutes or so.

Now go to and wait for the next update. See if your term shows up in the top 100, then check out how many blog entries suddenly appear about Polka Dotted Leprechauns.

If done correctly and over a long enough time, one might even be able to get tv producers to come out with some pretty absurd stuff (more so than usual) as they try to stay on top of the trends.

For all you college students who were wondering what to do over the holidays for fun and sport...You have your marching orders. If you actually schedule a search, post it to comments.

(in case you were wondering "Ryan White" was the number one search term at the time of this post)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nutty Buddy by Mark Littel, A picture's worth 1,000 words

Former pitcher Mark Littel has come up with what he claims is a better groin protecter for athletes. How do you go about marketing and creating buzz for a new and improved cup that costs twice as much as conventional ones? Well, Mark decided to "take one for the team". In this video clip, he demonstrates the effectiveness of the product by standing in front of a pitching machine and putting his product to the test.

The clip has gotten more than 50,000 views thus far and counting. Proving once again, show is more effective than tell....and people never get tired of seeing guys get hit in the groin.

Search Term and Trend Blogging

I've recently experimented with incorporating top search terms into my blog titles and posts to see what kind of impact it would have on traffic. I've already made some interesting observations.

When I simply put the three top search terms into a title and the article had little or nothing to do with the terms, very little impact was seen. Normally a blog search will display a bit of the article, and if the subject matter isn't what the searcher is looking for, they're not going to click.

On the other hand, when I wrote a story related to the a popular search term such as Whopper Freakout, I saw very significant traffic increases. However, if the search term is too "hot", like "Prometa" was after the CBS interview on the topic, the effect is diminished. I assume this is because there are thousands of trend watchers out there using these terms as well. One should also keep in mind that the hot search term right now, may not be so hot 20 minutes from now.

I guess the moral of the story is that it's worthwhile taking a look at top search trends before you start writing a post and if you can incorporate a word or phrase into the title or body, go for it. But, if you want to retain consistency and value in your blog, it still has to be good information consistent with your blog's theme.

If you use your blog as an advertising vehicle for other sites, you also have to determine if increased traffic is resulting in increased business. Who's your target audience? Is the subject of your post something related to their interests?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Whopper Freakout,

Here's an interesting marketing experiment. A Burger King decided to see what would happen if they discontinued the Whopper. The Whopper was taken off the menu for a day and customers were told that it was discontinued forever.

The response was fascinating. Of course most were confused and upset. Many also started reminiscing and waxing nostalgic about their first Whopper and instances where they went to great lengths to get a Whopper.

The net effect was to make people appreciate the product more by forcing them to acknowledge their feelings about it consciously. I guess it's true, "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

The promotional value of the marketing experiment/prank goes farther than a single store. At the moment it's among the most popular vids on YouTube and the search term "Whopper Freakout" is among the top five on Google.

Hmmmm... maybe Cartman really had something on the South Park episode where he wouldn't let anyone into his amusement park. If you want to create buzz for your product, don't let anyone have it.

Full Screen Video available at

Small Event Marketing

You may think that getting a booth at a local event is something that only venders and large companies should do. Actually, local events create great networking and marketing opportunities for any business.

Consider the cost/benefit analysis. You need a table, a chair, some promotional material (which you probably already have on hand), maybe have an employee staff the booth, and some refreshments for the employee.

Assuming the event is 4 hours long, you may have to pay the employee something like $50. The booth space itself is going to vary, but most small events will give you an "information only" booth for around $100 or less. Maybe you spring for some new promotional material to the tune of $300. Total cost: around $500.

Now some adjustments to our cost total: Any undistributed promotional material can be used another day. Anything that was distributed was obviously worth the trip. Your real cost, over and above what you would have spent anyways, is more like $150. Now the only question is, how much business will your company's appearance generate?

If the day's efforts result in a single new customer, for most businesses, that's certainly worth $150. You have to consider how much business a new customer will do over the life of the account, not just the initial purchase. Maybe you'll generate renewed interest from a past customer. Maybe you'll meet a new, valuable contact. In any case you'll increase awareness of your business, which helps make all of your other marketing efforts more effective.

You're also generating goodwill. Most small events benefit a local charity or non-profit in some way or another. Your support will be appreciated by the organizers as well as many attendees.

The next time your Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Events Organization, PTA or other organ ization puts on an event where you can expect 500 or more people in attendance, consider taking advantage of the opportunity. You can even split the cost by going in on a table or booth with a network partner, or two, or three.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mayweather fight, Bad Day at Black Rock, Saluki

Google now has a site where you can view trends in internet searches. Among other things it lists the current top 100 search terms. Those in the title are the top three. This post is an experiment to see if posting these terms in a blog title results in more traffic. If it does, it could inspire some very creative blog titles in the future, like "A bad marketing campaign can make you feel like a real Saluki after a Mayweather fight on a Bad Day at Black Rock.

I'll keep you posted.