Taking Print Pubs Exclusively Online, Which Green are We Talking About?

I know, long title.  I have been seeing so many Tweets (Twitter for those not in the know, follow me on http://www.twitter.com at @jonmikelbailey) about magazines and newspapers going exclusively on-line.  A couple that really got my attention for separate reasons are the Christian Science Monitor and PC Magazine.

Christian Science Monitor will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Nov 25th.  It is a national print publication that has an established history and a wide following.  And in April of 2009 it will go exclusively on-line.  http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1029/p25s01-usgn.html.  This is a first for a nationally distributed newspaper.  What this says to me is two things… 1. the web is growing up fast and 2. printing and distribution costs are finally getting high enough to make this sort of thing a viable reality.

PC Magazine has been a fixture on the desks and coffee tables of geeks everywhere since the 80s.  It is quite a substantial magazine both in content and just in sheer size.  And it is another very popular publication that come February 2009 will be distributed entirely on-line.  This example I think really speaks to the shift in advertising trends.  Advertising firms all over are embracing on-line advertising more than ever.  So much so that publications that offer print and on-line advertising opportunities are starting to see a shift in interest for placement.

There is plenty of information out there on on-line advertising trends.  That is not my main concern here.  What interests me is that this thing called the web is more viable than ever.  It started as a place for geeks to play with their modems on bulletin boards.  Moved into a bleeding edge place for dabblers.  Now, its mainstream and growing exponentially every day.

Our clients, from Landscapers in Northern Virginia (http://www.wcmlandscape.com/) to restaurants in Middletown, MD (http://www.themaincup.com/), now see that the web is a place where they can find lots of business.  So, I say, pay attention to the trends.  Ask the experts and read articles on-line.  The web changes daily and if you stay in the know you can really take advantage of the potential for finding business.

Motrin and the New Dynamic…

OK, so I am riding the coattails of so many others on the “What Motrin Did Wrong” train.  Check out the ad in question… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmykFKjNpdY

I think this ad and Motrin’s subsequent response is a classic example of corporate think not working in the new dynamic of marketing and messaging.  Mostly, from all the blogs and tweets out there on the subject, I think Seth Godin really makes the best point… http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/11/we-feel-your-pa.html.

Truly, Motrin presented what to some was a horrible ad.  So, what did they do?  They got corporate and posted a corporate apology.  What they missed is an opportunity to engage.  This was the prefect chance for Motrin to start a real conversation with real people about real pain.

So many corporations play it safe and react as opposed to interact.  Bad PR will occur no matter what.  Its all about how you use it.  Motrin could have invited the angry customers to a discussion on their website about how better to market their product.  They could have blogged about the mistake they made, apologized for offending some and invite open discussion about what they could have done differently.

AND, they could have encouraged all of this interaction on their website, on Twiter, YouTube (another missed opportunity for them was to make fun of their own ad).  It’s a shame that heads are still so thick in the corporate world.  Someday these people will all retire to an island somewhere and the real conversation can truly begin!

Push and Pull and Web 2.0

I think about this stuff a lot.  There is so much technology at our fingertips it can get very overwhelming.  The key, in my mind, is being aware of your message and how it will be received and perceieved.

The world of Web 2.0 is one in which people find information and information, in a sense, finds people.  It is the Push and Pull of the Internet.  Push is posting information, like this Blog or say a newsletter, and then promoting that on something like Twitter.  Pull is how effective and attractive that piece of information is to say search engines, viewers, other bloggers, etc.

You can look at it as a dance – an it takes two to tango sort of thing.  It used to be all about “publishing” and now it is about interacting, having a conversation.  There are so many ways to have an effective “conversation” online – twitter, blogs, email, newsletters, FaceBook, etc – but I really want to talk very briefly not about the how, but about the why.

It’s not solely for attention or noteriety, those self-absorbed types get found out real quick.  Its about what you have to offer and how you can deliver that to the people that are interested.  The idea behind Web 2.0 is to stop selling and start communicating – part of this is speaking but I would argue the more important part is listening and then interacting.

The why is this – to help, to connect and in turn to grow.  Its not just about leads or the bottom line, its about the message, about the conversation.  As you perpetuate the conversation you will notice that you run into the same players quite a bit.  This is growth, these are your partners and then can multiply and be a great advocate for you – just don’t exploit them and don’t exploit Social Networking solely for personal gain.  It is about the conversation, can’t stress this enough. 

Now get out there and start dancing!

The New Marketing Dynamic

Aside from the obvious landmarks in this Presidential election, there are some marketing dynamics that have really been brought into the mainstream by Obama’s campaign, namely Social Media Marketing.

Thought leaders in the marketing industry have been preaching the virutes of social media for sometime now.  But I really think that Barack Obama’s genius use of this marketing method.  Think of all the people out there who were first exposed to things like Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc because of Obama’s method of outreach.  This is pure viral marketing at its best.

I really think we will see this trickle more and more into sales and marketing efforts in companies of all sizes, not just the giants like Ford and Coca Cola.  I also believe (much like Dean’s campaign in 2004) that this will reshape our political landscape for years to come and shine a very bright light on those backroom meetings that used to decide the future of this country.  Republican or Democrat, you have to be impressed.

Social Media – Hype or the New Reality of Marketing?

I’m going to go with a little of both…

With the recent downturn in the economy, more and more businesses are looking to electronic media as a cheap way to market themselves and stay connected.  Social media, such as sites like www.linkedin.com, www.twitter.com, www.facebook.com, are proving to be some of the most popular places where business people (and unfortunately people with too much time on their hands) are choosing to spend their time networking, blogging, chatting and just generally connecting.

So, what’s the deal, why is this becoming such a popular way to market your business (or yourself)???  Well, for one thing its instant.  No more waiting and analyzing mounds of marketing data to gauge the effectiveness of your outreach, just post and see what happens.  Also, you can easily connect with like-minded people who can help you promote your message to people you know, fine-tune your approach or expand you pool of useful marketing knowledge.

In terms of methodology, let me offer the following…

For FaceBook – Add friends, lots of these, this is the place to do it.  Don’t get caught up in all the silly little apps (unless that’s why you are there, in which case, stop reading now).  Try to find groups that relate to what you do, you can see a lot of these on your like-minded friends profiles.  And try to stay as professional as possible – you will come across as much more of a pro if you do.

For Twitter – Follow only people that you think will offer you something and can benefit from what you offer.  Don’t post silly stuff like what you had for breakfast or that your boyfriend/girlfriend just dumped you.  Keep it useful – send links to useful articles, your blog (if you have one) and maybe some posts on your website.

For LinkedIn – Download the app for Outlook and add lots of contacts through this.  Consider LinkedIn to be like your resume on steroids.  Use it to promote yourself and your business.  You can do this by getting introduced to benefitial contacts via your contacts.

But don’t take my word for it, get out there any try these things out.

You can find me at…

http://twitter.com/bailstoke

http://www.facebook.com/people/Jon-Mikel_Bailey

http://www.linkedin.com/in/woodstreet

Building your Website from the Bottom Up

A web site is like a virtual sales force.  It can deliver a message, sell a product, or encourage an action through interactivity and targeted messaging.  Ultimately the purpose of a web site is to encourage the visitor to do something.

 

In our method, starting with the more detailed information and working towards the homepage message will allow you to pinpoint exactly how you want your visitor to interact with your site.  This “bottom up” process can look something like this…

 

First, you will want to identify the specific action you want the visitor to take.  It may be more than one thing.  If so, prioritize that list relative to the site’s success.  For example, do you want the visitor to call on the phone, visit another page, or fill out a form?  Or some other action?

 

Then make a second list of possible ways in which your visitors will be enticed to take action.  Search feature?  Articles?  Direct encouragement?  Write down everything you can think of and then prioritize these in terms of what is most feasible or realistic.

 

Now that you have identified your desired response, you can organize the core of your site, its “guts” so to speak.  A website can have primary pages (like a home or landing page), secondary pages which are quick overviews that extend from your home page and then 3rd and 4th tier pages that elaborate on that message.  What you are trying to do here is establish a base theme for your site with your 3rd and 4th tier pages from which the targeted message will come.  And this message is what drives the desired action.

 

The “bottom up” method means you start with those 3rd and 4th tier pages.  These can be white papers, articles, product specifications, etc.  These are going to be the areas of your site that support your targeted messaging, you last defense.  As you organize this content, look for common themes that relate to your desired actions you have already identified. 

 

Now, pull out the themes and ideas that are more targeted to your audience and desired response – these are your 2nd tier pages.  And from those you will want to narrow the message even further: This is your home page.

 

By the time you get to the home page you should have a laser sharp message.  Use very direct language that calls for the action you want the visitor to take.  Make your message obvious.  Who are you?  What do you offer?  Why should the visitor care and take action? 

 

Messaging is simpler if you know what you want in response.   Your web site content should always have something to do with this desired response.  Your web site organization should always have something to do with this desired response. That’s why this “bottom up” method can be so effective when working on your web messaging and site organization. 

Marketing is Your Life Preserver, Not Dead Weight!

In unstable economic times, like the tsunami we are experiencing now, many companies make a huge mistake.  They cut back, even suspend, all of their marketing efforts.  While this may seem like the smart place to make cuts when times are tough, it is clearly not the right move.  Just look to years past…

Companies that fine tune and agressively target their marketing efforts during economic hardships, are usually the ones who whether the storm.  Think about it… if you are in a position where business is starting to dry up because of bad economic times, why would you take away the one thing that could help increase it.  It is like tossing a life preserver out of a sinking ship.

Now, I am not saying go out and spend like crazy on ads, or Google AdWords.  I am advocating a smarter approach.  Find tools out there that are inexpensive like some of the social networking sites, or Blogs – like this one.  Build your network and use it to your advantage.  This means in person and online.  Go to events, take business cards, collect business cards, and follow up.  Write an email newsletter – like this one…

http://www.woodstreet.com/content_pgs/newsletter/index.aspx

Do what it takes to get out there.  Marketing is not advertising, it is outreach.  Be smart.  Stay visible, stay on the offensive and it will pay off!